Zenab Bastawala


This presentation is about the making of Janna, a typeface made for both wood and screen. Janna, the chromatic Kannada, evolved initially from the street of Bangalore, India. The idea was born in the absence of letterpress chromatic Indian scripts.

As type casting and printing technologies became more abundant globally, during mid-19th to 20th century, India flourished with metal and wood types primarily for book publication and newspaper mastheads. India also saw a wave of hand-painted signs designed locally by the sign painters for businesses and entertainment. In contrast to letterpress, decorative conventions such as outlining, shading/shadowing, extruding letterforms, and beveling fused with India's calligraphic traditions to create a rich and robust culture of custom sign-painting.

This tradition continues today, but like many hand-made traditions, increased use of digital production methods has negatively impacted the industry. The last decade has seen several efforts to preserve global typographic heritage, but while type design and letterpress have seen a resurgence, there has been little development of scripts outside of Western scripts for letterpress.

This project by Zenab Bastawala and Ryan Molloy seeks to serve as a means to preserve India's sign-painting heritage by paying homage to the forms of the tradition while also simultaneously seeking what may be the first of its kind, a chromatic Kannada typeface.

Zenab's pockets are filled with types of types. She takes a multi-script and multi-lingual approach while teaching typography and design as an Assistant Professor at Maine College of Art & Design, Portland. She holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, the United Kingdom, and a Bachelor’s in Visual Communication Design from Swinburne University, Australia. She is an award-winning typographer and type designer and an enthusiastic letterpress printer, she often conducts typesetting studios and workshops. As a sign collector, she curates Sign Walks, an online platform that critically examines urban signages, within the particular contexts, history, and implications within the temporal shifts of cityscapes.



zenbast (LinkedIn)